The Pacific’s unique geography makes preserving its crops, trees and seed for food security a formidable challenge. SPC’s Land Resources Division’s (LRD) work in Genetic Resources advances the utilization of plant genetic resources, including developing and strengthening seed and planting material supply networks to enable improved availability, access, utilization and quality of food crops and trees.
LRD’s Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT) in Fiji serves as the hub of these preservation, propagation and distribution efforts for these vital Pacific resources. On February 11, SPC celebrates the 2022 International Day of Women and Girls in Science by highlighting one of CePaCT’s dedicated lab technicians, Maraia Dure Ravulo. Maraia has a wealth of experience, working at LRD’s genetic resources lab for more than a decade, while moving up from intern to Lab Technician. Maraia comments below on her background and why it is important to uphold this year’s International Day theme of equity, diversity and inclusion.
Describe your academic background and work. How did you reach your present post at SPC Land Resources Division?
I started my career at the Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees (CePaCT) under the Land Resources Division, SPC on September 2011. I originally came for a six-month attachment whilst pursuing my Diploma in Industrial Laboratory Technology at Fiji National University. Upon the completion of my attachment, I was offered a temporary Lab assistant post until 2015. I then moved up to a Lab Technician post, where I work today. My role is conserving the region’s plant genetic resources using tissue culture techniques.
Why did you decide to study and work in the Science field?
Growing up, I was always interested with how the world around us evolved and always was keen to perform scientific procedures to discover new things. During my tertiary days, I was exposed to research work that enhanced my understanding and drove my attention to explore more in the science world. I later pursued this passion and turned it into my profession, where I now contribute my theoretical knowledge and practical skills on the role of conserving plant genetic resources for the region.
What impact does your work have in your community, and in the Pacific?
At CePaCT, our goal is to assist with the agricultural development in the region through effective use of plant genetic resources for sustainable food and nutrition security. Our service is not only limited to conserving the plant germplasm collection, but we also provide climate resilient crops, tolerant to drought, salt, waterlogged and acidic soil.
Apart from supplying climate resilient crops, we also assist countries with the repatriation of their local crops that may have been lost from the field during natural disasters.
As a woman that has studied and worked in a traditionally male dominated space what would be one of your key learnings?
Working in a male dominated field has its own challenges and negative stereotypes. To overcome this toilsome experience, you should never allow any negative criticism to define you or restrain you from achieving your goals. Learn to take on the challenges as they come. Resilience will help keep your focus on your life goals.
This year’s theme for Women and Girls in Science day is Equity, Diversity and Inclusion: Water Unites Us. Why is it important that that there is equity, diversity and inclusion in science in the region, and globally?
Women are as equally important as men in any organization. Creating equity, diversity and inclusion in science will promote fairness, improve collaboration, lead to stronger team engagement and increase employee satisfaction. Successful organizations are driven by gender equality, diverse opinions, and inclusiveness.